QUESTION

Do teacher/employer recommendations help in application? I only heard GPA, test score, resume and essay?

ANSWER

Thank you for asking this question! I know it can be confusing with so many components going into a college application. Sometimes knowing which parts are valuable and which ones aren’t can be really tricky.

You are right about the GPA, test scores, resume, and essays being important to your child’s college application. These help the admissions committee get to know your child from their perspective and from an objective, academic way. The GPA and test scores help the admissions officers compare your child against other students applying for the same schools. The resume tells the admissions officers how your child spent their time outside of the classroom. The essays let your child speak and introduce himself to the admissions committees.

But so far, this only gives a two-dimensional view of your child. That’s where the teacher and employer recommendations come in.

These recommendation letters help your child come alive for the admissions committee. They’re able to get to know your child from the perspective of someone who has worked with him/her, either as a teacher or a boss, on a day-to-day basis. They have seen your child tackle intellectual challenges, gotten a firm grasp on his/her character, and have a valuable insight into what your child can contribute to the college community if he/she is accepted.

The recommendation letters also confirm any conclusions the admissions committee has made about your child’s character from the rest of his/her application packet. They can also explain any inconsistencies in your child’s academic history, like his/her grades dropping one semester due to the death of a parent or a lost job. If the person writing the letter is hesitant to recommend your child for any reason, the admissions committee will pay attention to that as well.

But they can also smell a form recommendation letter from a mile away and won’t hold its contents against your child if that’s what ends up being submitted to them.

Check out this article to get rid of any myths you had about recommendation letters in the college admissions process. This is backed up by a dean from Connecticut College.

Our College Consultants can help your child put together a brag sheet and practice asking his/her teacher or employer for a letter of recommendation.

Check out this article if you’re not sure what to include on your child’s brag sheet.